How I Spent My Summer: Ottawa Senators

AP hockey writer Stephen Whyno joins Tim and Sid to discuss the latest on Senators defenceman Erik Karlsson.

With school now back in session, and before training camps officially open next week, over the course of the next few days we’ll be bringing you up-to-date on how each of the seven Canadian NHL teams have spent their summers.

How I Spent My Summer series: VAN | EDM | CGY | WPG | TOR | MTL

Current cap space: $6,036,667
GM: Pierre Dorion
Head Coach: Guy Boucher
Assistants: Marc Crawford, Rob Cookson, Martin Raymond
Unsigned players: None

Signings/PTOs:
Mark Stone, one year, $7.35 million
Cody Ceci, one year, $4.3 million
– Chris Wideman, one year, $1 million
– Paul Carey, one year, $700,000
– Nick Paul, one year, $650,000
– Max McCormick, one year, $650,000
– Chase Balisy, one year, $650,000
– Adam Tambellini, one year, $650,000
– Brady Tkachuk, three years, entry-level deal

Free Agent departures:
– Fredrik Claesson

Biggest Summer Splash:

There were no shortage of summer storylines surrounding the Senators yet there was a dearth of actual roster movement, the most significant of which was getting rid of Mike Hoffman. The 28-year-old ranks 24th in goals since 2014-15 so, on the ice, it’s a huge loss for a Sens team that struggled to put up offence.

Off-ice allegations involving Hoffman’s girlfriend contributed to reported locker room issues so the team sent him, defenceman Cody Donaghey and a 2020 fifth-round pick to the San Jose Sharks for winger Mikkel Boedker, minor league blueliner Julius Bergman and a 2020 sixth-rounder. The Sharks then flipped Hoffman to the Panthers for a package that included a 2019 second-rounder.

Hoffman’s girlfriend, who has denied the allegations, was accused of cyberbullying Erik Karlsson’s wife, which had an obvious adverse effect on the captain’s relationship with the team.

Other notable additions and subtractions:

The team agreed to a one-year deal with restricted free agent forward Mark Stone while an arbitrator awarded RFA blueliner Cody Ceci $4.3 million. The Stone deal will have a lasting impact on this team one way or another.

“Signing him is the first step in a process that allows us to continue to negotiate a long-term deal in the new year,” Dorion said of Stone’s deal.

We’ll see if the two sides can agree on an extension or if Stone trade rumours become another distraction the Sens face throughout the season. The 26-year-old is now slated to enter unrestricted free agency following the season and he’s too valuable an asset to let walk without getting anything in return.

While the present is mostly doom and gloom in Ottawa, the team does have some young prospects that could help turn everything around. Brady Tkachuk is one of those prospects. He was selected fourth overall in June’s draft and signed his entry-level deal in August.

Randy Lee resigned as Dorion’s assistant GM as he faces harassment charges stemming from an alleged incident at the NHL Scouting Combine.

Despite finishing 2017-18 with the second-worst record in the NHL the team brought back its entire coaching staff—Boucher, Crawford, Cookson and Raymond. The team announced Tuesday they’ve also hired former NHLer Chris Kelly as a development coach.

Other Summer Headlines:

• What’ll happen with the Sens this season, both on and off the ice, is a complete mystery. Will it be a tire fire? A dumpster fire? Will the coach or GM be fired? Could there be more fireworks in the locker room and behind the scenes? There are multiple scenarios that could play out. All fans can do is sit back and watch the chaos unfold.

• The consensus feeling with the Hoffman situation was a change needed to be made to save face in the Sens’ room but there’s no doubt the move was detrimental to the roster. How much of an impact will it have? Mikkel Boedker is a quality top-nine forward but his offensive production simply doesn’t stack up to Hoffman’s.

• In the midst of the Hoffman craziness, Sens goalie Craig Anderson reportedly expressed his desire to move on from the team. Anderson is about to enter the first year of a two-year extension he inked in 2017 but at this point there’s no guarantee he’ll be wearing a Sens uniform by the time that deal expires.

• A handful of dubious reports suggesting Karlsson doesn’t want to sign with a Canadian team were refuted by the player himself. That’s a bit of good news for the Sens as it gives them a few more potential trade partners to do business with.

Key questions heading in to training camp:

What will happen with Karlsson? It’s really the only question regarding the current Sens roster worth asking. The management, players and fan base need a resolution so all sides can finally move on and the focus can be put back on the ice.

Dorion said the team offered him a contract extension after he became eligible to sign one on July 1 but Karlsson did not put pen to paper and trade talks resumed.

Karlsson has been connected to several teams with the Dallas Stars and Vegas Golden Knights among the frontrunners. If the Stars didn’t think so highly of Miro Heiskanen, Karlsson might already be in Dallas reunited with Marc Methot. Will Nate Schmidt’s recent 20-game suspension result in Vegas becoming more aggressive in their pursuit of the superstar Swede? And will the Sens insist that a team acquiring Karlsson also take Bobby Ryan’s contract?

The team must also decide what to do with Matt Duchene who’s entering the final year of his contract. Ottawa has nine pending UFAs on their roster, including the team’s three biggest trade chips in Karlsson, Stone and Duchene.

What Vegas is saying about the Senators…

The Sens’ odds to win the Stanley Cup are unsurprisingly amongst the worst in the league. Their odds range from +7500 to +15000.

Players like Karlsson, Stone and Anderson don’t even have Hart Trophy odds attached to their names because the Sens are expected to perform so poorly this season.

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